Skull and Bones is still on the way, although it's been met with another delay that has pushed back its launch window with no specified date. This means that the upcoming pirate simulator from Ubisoft may not be among the new games for 2023, but we've steadily been learning more and more about the adventure we'll be setting sail on.
While Sea of Thieves is currently taking the seas as a popular pirate adventure, Skull and Bones is set to deliver it's own blend of ship combat. Beginning as a lowly outcast who's shipwrecked on outpost without a crew, you'll work to rise up in infamy and ability in a bid to conquer the Indian Ocean and fight back against other players. While we wait for more news on the release date and more, read on below to find out everything we know so far about Skull and Bones.
Skull and Bones release date
Skull and Bones will now set sail in "early 2023-24". That's a loose release window, one which Ubisoft says it needs to provide "further polish and balance". The latest Skull and Bones delay was announced on January 11, just weeks out from its original March 9 release date. Ubisoft says we should expect a beta at some point in the new future so that players can provide feedback on the state of the game.
Skull and Bones platforms
Skull and Bones will release on PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC in 2023. There were originally plans for Skull and Bones PS4 and Xbox One editions, back when the nautical adventure was scheduled to release in 2018, although Ubisoft later dropped support for the two systems as it shifted its focus towards the new generation.
Skull and Bones delays
There have been six Skull and Bones delays since the game was unveiled at E3 2017. Skull and Bones was first delayed in 2018, where the game was pushed to a loose 2019 window as reports surfaced suggesting development had been rebooted. It was then delayed to 2020, and again into 2021, and then a fourth time to 2022 – where it was eventually given a November 8 release date. Sadly, Ubisoft delayed Skull and Bones a fifth time, pushing it to March 9, 2023. Skull and Bones was delayed for a sixth time on January 11, 2023, and no new release date has been given.
Skull and Bones setting
Skull and Bones is set during the 'Golden Age of Piracy' – a period between the 1650s and the 1730s where maritime piracy was a significant issue around the globe. Ubisoft has settled on an open world inspired by the Indian Ocean, which the publisher has described as being "beautiful yet dangerous." We'll be able to explore this setting as a pirate on the rise – starting out as a lowly outcast who is focused on gaining infamy and hunting for resources, funneling the pair into building the ultimate pirate ship.
Skull and Bones gameplay
The Skull and Bones gameplay is designed to make you feel like a deadly pirate captain. While something like Sea of Thieves has you controlling individual aspects of your vessel to make it function, Skull and Bones has you controlling all of the ship's functions – such as navigation, combat, and crew management. It's kind of like the naval sections in Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, albeit with nine years of iteration behind it.
There are three Skull and Bones ship types: Navigation, Firepower, and Cargo. Each ship has its own proficiencies and perks, and you'll ultimately want to build out a fleet of ships that leave you prepared for any situation you may find yourself in or contract that you take on. Navigation ships are the fastest of the lot, which is great for when you're moving over large distances; Cargo ships allow you to carry the most items, perfect for when you go off in search of valuable loot or resources for crafting; and Firepower vessels, naturally, pack the biggest punch in combat.
You'll be able to customize all of the available ships (12 in total) to better dial in your preferred playstyle. Additionally, you'll also need to be wary of ship condition and crew morale – Ubisoft has even teased that your crew can call for a mutiny if they aren't properly fed or kept happy. And lastly, we know that Sea of Thieves will have a penalty for failure; if your ship sinks, you'll respawn at the closest Pirate Den and only some of your cargo will be recovered – you can go back for the rest in another ship, although you should be prepared to fight other players over it once you get there.
Skull and Bones single-player
Is Skull and Bones a single-player game? It's a good question, and one that Ubisoft hasn't made super clear over the years. We now know that Skull and Bones is now a multiplayer-first, live-service experience that will give you the choice of playing solo if you want to. There isn't a set single-player campaign, as Ubi wants players to "create your own stories." So you'll be running through pirate contracts and missions as you would in the multiplayer experience – albeit in lonelier waters, filled with little more than pirate hunting AI and any NPCs necessary to complete quests. You'll also be able to play Skull and Bones co-op with two friends.
Skull and Bones multiplayer
Skull and Bones multiplayer is the main attraction here. Ubisoft has designed the game to allow you to sail the open seas either alone or in groups of three, engaging in either PvE or PvEvP – as in, either against existing elements in the environment or with other real-world players thrown into the mix for a little extra flavor. It's clear that Ubisoft has developed Skull and Bones with competitive pirate action at its heart, so expect many of the ship-to-ship combat and defensive systems to be geared around player interaction. Oh, and if you really want to lean into the fantasy of it all, every player will be able to get their own secret pirate lair.
Skull and Bones crossplay
Ubisoft has confirmed that there will be full Skull and Bones crossplay support from launch. Speaking with GamesRadar+, game director Ryan Barnard told us: "multiplayer is something you choose to do – either through uPlay with your friends or in-game, you can invite players to join your party" and that "yes, Skull and Bones is fully crossplay across PS5, PC, [and] Xbox Series X."
Skull and Bones beta
Following the most recent delay, Ubisoft has announced (opens in new tab) that there will be a Skull and Bones beta "in the near future." While that is incredibly unspecific, we do know that it will be an open beta session, which means that any and all players on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X who are curious about Skull and Bones will be able to jump into the action.
While you wait for Skull and Bones, why not check out some of the best games like Assassin's Creed Black Flag, or jump into one of the best PS5 games and best Xbox Series X games.